Tennis Prose




Nov/22

22

Andre, Monica Reach Out To Ailing Bollettieri

Nick Bollettieri observes Maria Sharapova practicing at US Open.

By Scoop Malinowski

Hall of Fame tennis innovator, coach, and academy founder Nick Bollettieri has been ailing recently but his spirits have been lifted by the the contacts of two of his most prolific proteges.

Larry Denyes, a former coach at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy and longtime friend shared this information today: “I went to see Nick tonight but he was sleeping so I didn’t want to wake him up. His wife, Cindy, told me that Andre (Agassi) reached out today and they had a great conversation. Andre also sent a very nice note. Nick needed that! And Monica (Seles) flew in to say hello. It’s incredible the outpouring of love he has received in the last few months.”

The 91 year old tennis titan had been in a Vermont hospital but returned to his home in Bradenton: “It was one of the Vanderbilt estate jets that brought him back to Bradenton from Vermont a few months ago. The heir to the estate used to work for Nick. Nick has every connection in the world.”

I was told earlier today by another former NBTA alumni player Yury Bettoni that when Andre’s name was recently mentioned to Nick, he was on the verge of tears.

Denyes explained how profound the Nick-Andre relationship was: “Nick loved Andre like a son. Very different relationship than any other student. Nick stuck up for Andre when Andre didn’t really deserve it.”

Former NBTA stars Kathleen Horvath and Tony Zanoni also have visited Nick at his Bradenton home in the last week.

Former ATP doubles champion Sander Groen shared this thoughts and memories of Bollettieri today: “He is so beloved because of his personality. There is not too many people with this kind success who are so accessible and kind as he is. The past 20 years he has been like a grandfather to anybody who loves tennis and he makes everybody feel like they are same important to him, no matter if player, coach or fan. And he had nothing to gain from that. Every time I spoke to him he made me feel as if he was my father. And I can imagine he hardly had any idea who I was because I cannot imagine he knew me as a player.”

“I think the last time I saw him he was mingling with the crowd in front of Arthur Ashe Stadium sitting on the edge of the fountains promoting his book… I couldn’t believe that. To me he is the godfather of modern day tennis.”

If you’re interested, here is my Biofile interview with Nick Bollettieri

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4 comments

  • Sam · November 23, 2022 at 3:52 pm

    Wait—I read reports just a few days ago that he had passed away. So . . . I guess those were wrong? 🤔

    Anyway, if he’s still alive, that’s good news—and hope he still has a few years left here. 🙏

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 23, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    Yes Nick is alive and in Bradenton, FL. fake news media struck again. Stay tuned here for Nick health comeback updates, never count out Nick Bollettieri.

  • Rock · November 24, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    wikipedia put him died nov.22 scoop. is he still alive and coaching? he treats every kids as equal even though your from sri lanka, indonesia, kuwait, rwanda, hungary, kazakstan or mars. nick mission is to develop kids as a champion in life not only in tennis.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2022 at 8:32 pm

    Rock, Nick is alive. He’s in bed at home in Bradenton. I am working on a book on NBTA and here is what one NBTA former employee and friend said about Nick… They talk about his No. 1s ones that he taught or was associated with. It is the number of CEOs… university presidents… athletic directors… college coaches… attorneys… business owners… doctors… Presidents of countries… artists… That’s his real legacy. The ones who watched him work all day and then give them extra attention at the end of the day. They learned their work ethic from him.
    It was the kid who had never been told “no” to. Never had to pick up his clothes, never been yelled at, never said “no” to. Those parents sent their kids to Nick and paid big bucks for him to teach them about life. Tennis was a side benefit.
    It was that kid who came from South America and didn’t know English. He ended up going to school on a tennis scholarship and going home with a work ethic and the knowledge of English to start his career. That’s Nick’s legacy. It’s not the No. 1s. They are the icing on the cake. The cake is…are the thousands upon thousands of kids who came through the academy and learned about life… survival… how to get along… learn English. That’s what the academy was all about.
    To me the greatest student at the academy was that fourteen-year-old boy who was the best in his city, state or country… and arrived at the academy knowing no one. On his first day he was sent out to play a ten-year-old girl. And she kicked his butt. He cried… but didn’t go home. He gutted it out. That kid just grew more than he will ever know.

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